It was supposed to be an offensive shootout. It was supposed to go down to the wire. No. 1 Clemson (14-0) did not care for any of that. After going into halftime trailing by one point after having a pass intercepted in the end zone, the Tigers roared in the second half and buried No. 4 Oklahoma (11-2) with a 21-0 second half en route to a convincing 37-17 victory in the Orange Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff. Deshaun Watson and Wayne Gallman each rushed for over 140 yards and combined for three rushing touchdowns as Clemson punched its ticket to Glendale, Arizona to play in the second College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday, January 11, 2016.
The first half of the game saw Clemson missing opportunities to tack on points at times, but they made sure that did not come back to haunt them in the second half. It did not help Oklahoma’s cause that running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon each went down with injuries in the game. Perine was injured twice in the game, the second injury bringing an end to his evening in Miami. Oklahoma managed just 70 rushing yards, which never allowed for much chance to keep pace with Clemson. Clemson rushed for over 300 yards thanks in large part to the combination of Gallman and Watson. It was a rough evening for Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield too, who was under pressure essentially all game long and picked off twice despite 311 passing yards. Clemson’s quarterback also passed for 187 yards and a touchdown to keep the undefeated season continuing into the final game of the year. This was the second time Oklahoma has been outrushed by at least 250 yards by the opponent under Bob Stoops, who coached the Sooners to a second straight blowout loss at the hands of Dabo Swinney and Clemson.
Clemson’s defense got off to a sluggish start and ended the first half on a down note, but the second half the Tigers were on fire, even without Shaq Lawson (Lawson left the game in the first half with a leg injury and was ruled out for the second half; Lawson said he hopes to be able to play in the championship game). Clemson forced Oklahoma to punt, a turnover on downs, punt, an interception and a punt in the second half. It was quite the effort for Clemson, and it was a truly impressive bounce back after a sluggish first half at times.
Clemson will now await the winner of the Cotton Bowl semifinal game between SEC champion Alabama and Big Ten champion Michigan State. Alabama owns a 12-2 head-to-head record against Clemson, with the most recent meeting between the two programs coming in 2008 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. Clemson’s last win against Alabama came in 1905, which followed a victory in 1904. Alabama has won 12 straight meetings since. Clemson has never faced Michigan State.
For Oklahoma, it will be back to the drawing board. The Sooners still rebounded from a relatively down season in 2014 by striking back and taking advantage of a couple of Big 12 contenders playing without their top quarterbacks (TCU, Baylor). The offense opened up under a new offensive coordinator and the Sooners should still be expected to be one of the top contenders in the Big 12 next season. The perception of the Big 12 will also continue to be a talking point. Two years into the College Football Playoff and the Big 12 has yet to win a game (we’ll see if the SEC can get on the board in a few hours). After being left out of the playoff last season, Oklahoma was a 20-point loser this season. Does that affect the image of the Big 12? One team’s performance should not be the only measuring stick for the strength of an entire conference, but that will what is magnified in Big 12 circles in the coming months and heading into the 2016 season.
The NCAA transfer portal has been busy this Monday. Add Michigan tight end Mustapha Muhammad as one of the latest entrants into the transfer portal. Muhammad made the transfer portal news himself with an announcement on his Twitter account Monday afternoon.
Muhammad is a redshirt freshman. He will have to sit out the 2020 season if he lands at another FBS program, and he will have two years of eligibility remaining beginning 2021. By entering the transfer portal, Muhammad is free to have contact with any other football program looking to recruit him out of Ann Arbor. The Texas native signed with Michigan over offers from Ohio State, Alabama, and Clemson, among others. Unfortunately, the highly rated recruit hasn’t been able to establish a key role in the Michigan offense early on, even with the Wolverines offense looking for playmakers.
Michigan’s tight end position appears to be settled with Nick Eubanks and Sean McKeon reaching the midway point of the season as Michigan’s leading tight ends when it comes to receiving yards. Eubanks is fifth on the team overall with 128 receiving yards and a touchdown. McKeon has added 96 yards and two touchdowns. Both players are seniors, however, but Michigan also has redshirt freshman Luke Schoonmaker as an option at the tight end position moving forward.
Oregon defensive back Kahlef Hailassie is now officially on the market. Hailassie announced on his Twitter account on Monday afternoon he has officially entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal.
A sophomore and a member of Oregon’s Class of 2018, Hailassie is now eligible to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him to their program. when he committed to the Ducks out of high school, Hailassie chose Oregon over offers from Colorado and Washington State, among others. Hailassie had previously committed to Colorado during his recruiting process, only to de-commit shortly after an official visit to Boulder.
Hailassie played in just three games this season before being sidelined with an injury. Because he has played in fewer than four games, Hailassie can use the 2019 season as a redshirt year. Hailassie played in all 13 games for Oregon as a true freshman in 2018, recording one tackle as a reserve player and a special teams player. Hailassie will have to sit out the 2020 season if he ends up at another FBS program, which would make him eligible to return to the field with two full years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2021.
It turns out the leg injury suffered by Oregon tight end Jake Breeland was pretty serious. Ducks head coach Mario Cristobal confirmed the news on Monday that Breeland will miss the remainder of the 2019 season with a left leg injury.
“It hurts you personally and it hurts everyone when a guy that’s worked so hard, has overcome as much as he has and the type of season he was having, to have to endure something like this,” Cristobal said in a press conference on Monday, according to The Oregonian. “He’s ready to attack the whole process of getting healthy again so he can play again.”
Breeland will have his 2019 season brought to a premature close after leading the team with 405 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Oregon’s receivers have been banged up at times already this season, and losing the top tight end in the offense won’t make things any easier. Oregon visits Washington this week for a pivotal Pac-12 North matchup with the defending conference champions.
So, who replaces Breeland at the position? Oregon’s latest depth chart currently has Ryan Bay and Hunter Kampmoyer filling the top spots at the tight end positions for the Ducks. Bay, a senior, has appeared in all six games and has caught three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. Kampmoyer, a junior, has caught one pass for 21 yards and a touchdown in six games this season.
Anthony Brown had his redshirt freshman season cut short due to a knee injury, battled back to start all 12 games in 2018 and BC’s first six contests this fall, until yet another knee injury knocked him out for another season.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio revealed Monday that Brown will miss the remainder of the season with what the school is calling a “lower leg injury.” Brown made a cut avoiding a tackle during BC’s Oct. 5 game against Louisville and immediately clutched his left knee. Boston College lost the game, 41-39, though Brown began the contest 6-of-7 for 193 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re very, very sad for Anthony. He worked hard to get himself where he was. He’s seventh all-time in passing in BC history and heading towards greater things this year. He’s had a great career and he’s prepared and practiced and put so much into it. We’re so proud of him,” Addazio said.
The fourth-year junior from Cliffwood, N.J., finishes his season 81-of-137 for 1,250 yards with nine touchdowns against two interceptions while rushing for 128 yards and two scores.
“It’s a tough deal, but he’s a tough guy and he’ll bounce back,” Addazio said. “We’re gonna love him and support him and get him back to where he was, but his season has come to an end.”
Brown can return as a fifth-year senior in 2020, with two year-ending knee injuries under his belt, literally and figuratively.